Catharine Brown: Out of a Wilderness Came an Inspiring Saint
I have labored in Christian work reading, writing and preaching for 60 years. Few things have inspired me like the little Indian girl, Catharine Brown.
Catherine made an easy decision to leave home at 17 and travel 100 miles to attend the missionary school in Brainerd. She was an untaught heathen girl who wanted to learn to read and write. But it was a very hard decision for her to leave the school in less than three years later. She did not want to leave the friends who were like a family to her and to cease from her studies.
Catharine wrote in her diary, ?tomorrow morning I shall leave this school? The dear Savior now calls me to work in his vineyard, and shall I, for the sake of my Christian friends and of my own pleasure, refuse to go, while many of my poor red brother and sisters are perishing for lack of knowledge?? At such urging from her own soul and the missionaries advice, on the last of May 1820, Catharine left to start a school for females near her paternal home.
She formed the school at Creek Path, her father?s home, and began preaching the gospel. While there she saw scores come to learn about reading and writing and the Savior. Best of all she had the joy of beholding her father, mother, a brother, and two or three sisters, unitedly seeking the pardon- of their sins, and that peace, which the world giveth not. After a suitable trial, and due instruction, all these her relatives, with others of their countrymen, publicly professed faith in Christ, and were united to his visible church, Catharine saw the conversion of nearly all of her family.
Before missionaries had arrived she established a weekly prayer-meeting with the ladies. A short time later Catharine formed a female charitable society. She showed the most compassionate concerns for reliving the physical suffering of her people.
Catherine was a prolific letter writer, who wrote like an epistle of a Spirit-controlled apostle. The following is a letter to missionaries who had taught her the Bible.
My dear Brother and Sitter Williams, ALTHOUGH I have long omitted answering your affectionate letters, my heart has been often with you. Yes, dear brother and sister, I do not forget you, and all the pleasant meetings we had together, when you were here. But pain is mixed with pleasure, when I think they are gone, no more to return! When I remember the kind instruction I received from you, before you left this place, my heart swells with gratitude. I feel much indebted to you, but more particularly to that God, who sent you here to instruct the poor ignorant Indians in the way that leads to everlasting life. Oh, my dear friends, may the Lord ever bless you, and make you the instrument of doing great good where he has called you.
Here is a letter Catharine wrote to a Christian in Brainerd, on Jan. 12, 185O. Dear Sister in Christ, I THANK you much for your affectionate letter, which I received on the 23d of December. O, how great, how rich is the mercy of our dear Redeemer, who has made us the subjects of his kingdom, and led us, as we trust from death unto life. My dear sister, I can never express my gratitude to God, for his goodness towards me, and my dear people. Surely it is of his own glorious mercy, that he is sending to us the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, in this distant land, where the people had long sat in darkness, and were perishing for lack of the knowledge of God. Blessed be his holy name! O my sister let us rejoice continually in our Lord and Saviour, and as we have put on Christ, not only by outward profession, but by inward and spiritual union, let us walk worthy of our high and holy vocation, and shew the world, that there is something in true religion. And may the Lord give us strength to do his will, and to follow continually the example of our meek and lowly Jesus.
This is the second in a three part series on Catharine Brown